Dateline: Paris `
If not, and should you be so inclined to learn, please don't start with the word 'weasel.' There are other words in translation that will be more useful to your French lexicon. The following would be helpful:
"Global Warming"- France's recently elected President Sarkozy (probably as close to a French edition of an American Republican as we are going to see in our lifetime) proclaimed in his inaugural address last week that fighting 'global warming' will be his highest priority. This, unlike the policy of his confrere across the sea where scrapping the Kyoto Treaty has been the order of the day since day one, near seven years ago.
"Mass Transportation"- France has built and enhanced its railway system to a level making it one of the foremost mass transportation systems in the world. Train service spans the nation and is viable, energy efficient, and run in large measure through greenhouse gas-free electricity generated by nuclear power. Here future innovation in rail transport is supported with test runs of rail service reaching 350 miles an hour. All this, unlike our policies where our rail transport is starved for funding and our Monsieur le President militates for cuts in the financing of our Amtrak system (see post "The Vision Thing: Shortchanging Amtrak, Coddling the Oil Patch, Building a Stealth Superhighway Nightmare" 3.20.07)
"Alternative Energy Sources"- France has a national economy where the electric grid is not powered by coal, gas and oil fired plants but rather by nuclear power with plants located throughout the country supplying over 80 percent of the nations electrical power needs. Clean, efficient and cheaper by far at today's fossil fuel stock prices and virtually self-reliant. Yes, there are problems of nuclear waste disposal but there are also solutions (see post "Nuclear Waste: 'Not in My Backyard'. Then Whose?" 7.07.06). In the nearly seven years of President's Bush's Presidency, no viable steps to expanding our nuclear capabilities have been taken and no effort at meaningful use of the President's bully pulpit to educate us to the benefits, the economic viability and environmental pluses of nuclear energy when compared to fossil fuel sources. While France continues on its way to become energy self-reliant through its nuclear program we haven't built a nuclear plant in thirty years.
"Effectively Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions"- Paris as a city, perhaps more than in any other country, embraces its nation's values and provides leadership in policy and action. Here in France's capital, targets have been set to reduce traffic in the city by 40 percent and greenhouse gases 60 percent by the year 2020. A number of initiatives are already in place or are in process. There will be a refocus on and extension of tramways. There will be designated 'civilized thoroughfares' with priority lanes for buses and bicycles. The banks of the Seine will become 'pedestrian-ised.' Areas throughout the city will be restricted to pedestrian traffic only. The 'beltway' around Paris will have lanes allowing quick passage for buses, taxis and emergency vehicles. Public parking facilities are being eliminated or reduced or turned over to motorized scooters and bicycles which already pepper the Parisian streetscape. Our Monsieur le President's "actions" on greenhouse gases belie his intentions. Only last week talking to us from the Rose Garden, we were advised that he was ordering Federal Agencies to work together to devise regulations to reduce 'greenhouse gases.' This 'working together' will take until 2008 to come up with findings, in essence at the end of his mandate thereby flipping the issue to the next Presidency. All the while showing where his true interests lie, by maintaining the 54 cent duty on imported ethanol.
Voila, M. le President Bush. Perhaps its time to order up that plate of "French fries." And for the rest of us to brush up on those old French lessons.